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Satellite Phone

Old 03-29-2009, 11:19 AM
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Default Satellite Phone

Anyone have an experience with these? Any suggestions on make/model? I am thinking it's a better option offshore than a single sideband.

thx
Old 03-29-2009, 12:39 PM
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Get the new Iridium. Iridium is the only one with good consistent global coverage. The airtime charges are a fortune.
Old 03-29-2009, 02:13 PM
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These guys usually have pretty good deals on phones and airtime: http://www.gmpcs-us.com/
Old 03-29-2009, 03:53 PM
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First the Marine SSB is relitatively limited--some Boat to Boat and CG communication is available. (and tis comes from a HAM operator who loves SSB)--but there is no longer the Hi Seas radio telephone operator. (KMI, WLO etc). You can use "sail mail"--which is a form of Pactor, but it requires some complex equiptment like a modeum and a computer to send e-mail.

There are two major Satellite telephone players for the US market: Iridium and Globalstar. Iridium has excellent service and a good reputation--but is a bit more pricey. I just looked up the most recent Globalstar information (their SPOT beacon seems to be doing well, but the telephone seems to be as bad as ever. The telephones are as little as 20% of the Iridium, and service plans are very in-espensive. BUT there is a disclaimer on the contract, that the purchaser understands that there are problems with the satellites and that the subscriber understands that there will be no or dropped service. I don't know how bad this is--and if anyone has current experience I would really appreciate any information.

Here is what Globalstar has on the web site:
"
IMPORTANT INFORMATION Concerning the Globalstar Satellite Constellation
Two-Way Voice and Duplex Data Services - Temporary Limitations

As previously announced, many Globalstar satellites are experiencing an anomaly resulting in degraded performance of the amplifiers for the S-band satellite communications antenna. The anomaly is adversely affecting two-way voice and data services. Customer service continues to be available, but at certain times at any given location it may take substantially longer to establish calls and the duration of calls may be limited. Until the new second-generation Globalstar satellite constellation is operational, Globalstar is offering its Optimum Satellite Availability T-tool (OSAT) on its Internet site, which subscribers may use to predict when one or more unaffected satellites will be overhead at any specific geographic location.

Simplex Data and Asset Tracking Services – Fully Operational

The Globalstar constellation is completely stable and fully operational in supporting Globalstar Simplex data satellite products and asset tracking services. Recent monitoring tests indicate that the Simplex data network is currently operating at a successful transmission rate of greater than 99 percent. And because Globalstar's Simplex data products are also designed to work with the second-generation satellite constellation, they are expected to provide customers with years of high quality reliable service well into the next decade and beyond.

Spare Satellites Launched and Second-Generation Satellites Scheduled for 2009

Globalstar has launched eight spare satellites for its existing constellation with a view to reducing the gaps in its two-way voice and data services pending commercial availability of its second-generation satellite constellation, scheduled for initial launch in the second half of 2009. Globalstar will continue to operate its existing satellite constellation to provide and support services until the second-generation Globalstar satellites are available for service.”

You can buy a phone kit for as little as $299 for Globalstar and as little as $1195 for Iridium--but I think I'll go with the Iridium, thanks....If you have an emergency--you want reliable contacts (we also carry an EPIRB--the emergency could be on the land end).
Old 03-30-2009, 08:07 AM
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I have a Globlestar GSP 1700. As for the phone good battery life and when working the sound quality is very good. Coverage with the current sats is very spotty. You need to use Globlestar’s Optimum Availability Report http://www.globalstarusa.com/en/optimum_tool/ to get a list of times the sats are available for your location and then you can get a 10 to 15 min window to make a call. </SPAN>

In making your decision it comes down to what is the need. Are you looking to just check-in and don’t mind working around the sats other than the cost of the phone the services will work and it’s only $19.00 unlimited. However if you need reliability look at their Spot product with short messaging http://www.findmespot.com/en/or go with Iridium. If you are looking for a device to use in an emergency go with an EPIRB. Then if the budget allows get a sat phone.
Old 03-30-2009, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Shambala View Post
These guys usually have pretty good deals on phones and airtime: http://www.gmpcs-us.com/

I purchased one for my vacation in Iraq. I just sold it here on THT. That link is where I purchased mine from. There are alot of deals to be had on these right now.

Old 03-30-2009, 09:00 AM
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I agree with thataway's general description of the limitations of marine SSB but, just as a point of clarification, WLO (high seas radio telephone service) is still very much in operation.
Old 03-30-2009, 04:38 PM
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Richard, Thanks for the correction. I had some old information--and should have varified about WLO--which I believe is the only US high Seas Station left.

I looked at the availability reports for Global Star, but my concern was that when I am in remote areas for several months at a time, I will not have computer access--or don't want to pay the high cost of satellite telephone, to try and down load the availability reports, which seem to be only for a couple of days ahead. The problems with SPOT is that it is only pre-programed message out--not reception of incoming messages.
Old 03-30-2009, 06:03 PM
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I've had both Globalstar and Iridium--Iridium is the ticket. I have installed my unit with an external antenna, that way I can receive calls from my helm. Sat phones have to have a clear view of the sky to communicate.

Originally my Globalstar worked great until their satelites went bad -- they gave me a list of times I could expect service... eg; Monday 30-09, usages availabe from 10:15 - 10:36. I bought the phone for safety -- can you see your self in serious trouble (fire) and trying to call for help... oh, wait, I can't call until 1:38 this afternoon!!!!

I would not waste my $$$ for globalstar.
Old 03-31-2009, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonafare View Post
I've had both Globalstar and Iridium--Iridium is the ticket. I have installed my unit with an external antenna, that way I can receive calls from my helm. Sat phones have to have a clear view of the sky to communicate.

Originally my Globalstar worked great until their satelites went bad -- they gave me a list of times I could expect service... eg; Monday 30-09, usages availabe from 10:15 - 10:36. I bought the phone for safety -- can you see your self in serious trouble (fire) and trying to call for help... oh, wait, I can't call until 1:38 this afternoon!!!!

I would not waste my $$$ for globalstar.
Yup, same here. I had Globalstar for a couple years and when the satellites went down I could barely get reception, even with the stupid sheet from the website. Switched to Iridium and it is absolutelly the only choice between the two, works great.

Old 03-31-2009, 05:03 PM
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Thanks, great info. I amnot extremely worried about the per minute charges- this is a "for emergency use" phone for offshore.
Old 03-31-2009, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard-HT View Post
I agree with thataway's general description of the limitations of marine SSB but, just as a point of clarification, WLO (high seas radio telephone service) is still very much in operation.
another thing with SSBs are that theyre really meant for steel vessels, and if you have a fiberglass vessel you need to lay a lot mesh copper mesh under the decks under the waterline for them to serve their purpose. You also need at least a 20'+ antenna, which isnt practical on most boats (like mine).

given the cost of SSBs also, a Satphone is def the better choice.
Old 04-01-2009, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by kingair View Post
I purchased one for my vacation in Iraq. I just sold it here on THT. That link is where I purchased mine from. There are alot of deals to be had on these right now.

Must have been an interesting "vacation".

As a Globalstar customer all I can say is don't get one. Go Irridium
Old 04-03-2009, 09:07 AM
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One more NO vote for global, in other words don't bet your life on one
Old 04-05-2009, 02:30 PM
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Does anyone know if you can send text messages from the Gloalstar phones?
Old 04-06-2009, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by carlynewlondon View Post
Must have been an interesting "vacation".

As a Globalstar customer all I can say is don't get one. Go Irridium
Oh yea, it was just great.

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